A nine-member committee, set up by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan earlier in the day to examine the Bhagwant Mann issue, met on Monday evening, amidst a buzz in the ruling BJP circles that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member is likely to be expelled from the House.
The committee has decided to give Mann three days to respond, which the AAP MP has demanded in writing from Lok Sabha secretary general. It has also called him to appear before it on July 28.
Sources said Mann’s video of Parliament was played before the panel, which will now determine if it constitutes a security threat or not. It will meet again on Tuesday. A member of the committee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it might also decide to meet daily to finalise its report, which is to be submitted before August 3. “He has asked for three days time and we have given him that,” said a source after the meeting.
Speaker Mahajan had earlier directed the AAP MP to submit his explanation to the committee by 10.30 am on Tuesday.
She also advised Mann not to attend the House till a decision was taken on the matter, which practically implies his suspension from the Lok Sabha.
The AAP MP was not present on Monday.
Sources disclosed that the BJP was inclined to push for Mann’s expulsion for two reasons: one, it wanted to send across a strong signal that it took the security of Parliament House seriously; two, it believes that AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been very high-handed in dealing with its two MLAs, Om Prakash Sharma and Vijender Gupta, and it was time to pay him back in the same coin.
Apart from being headed by Kirit Somaiya of the BJP, the committee includes Meenakshi Lekhi and Satyapal Singh (both BJP), Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena), Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD), Ratna De (Trinamool Congress), Thota Narasimham (Telugu Desam), K C Venugopal (Congress) and P Venugopal (AIADMK).
Even if some members advocate a milder punishment for Mann, like suspension till the end of the current session, the NDA, which has a clear majority in the panel, is likely to prevail.
The Speaker’s observation on Monday morning was indicative of the mood in the establishment. “The act of the member of audio-visual recording of the Parliament and posting it on the social media puts the security of Parliament in peril,” she said. “The inquiry committee shall inquire into the serious security implications and related aspects…. (and) suggest suitable remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future and recommend appropriate action in the matter.”
It would also suggest suitable remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents in the future and recommend appropriate action in the matter, she said. “The report of the committee will be presented to the House for its consideration.”
The AAP MP on Monday said he was just making an educational video. “I wanted to show people how questions are raised in Parliament. During educational tours to Parliament, people are shown even more than this. And if what I did was a security breach, then I also need to ask the Prime Minister as to why details of the Pathankot airbase were given to ISI. Wasn’t that a security breach?” he said at Malerkotla. He also accused the BJP, Congress and Akali Dal of joining hands to “suppress my voice”. “The three parties, who otherwise differ on most issues, have come together as they are all against AAP,” Mann said. ENS